Friday, April 25, 2014

April 15, 2014 Watershed Alliance Meeting Minutes

Minnesota River Watershed Alliance meeting notes
April 15, 2014, Ridgewater College, Hutchinson

By a unanimous vote at the April 15 meeting, the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance supports the convening of the first Minnesota River Congress, scheduled for Thursday, June 19, 2014 at Turner Hall in New Ulm. The purpose of the Congress is to bring together all interested parties in the Minnesota River basin to chart a path forward to continue building a broad-based citizen and government partnership entity to preserve and improve natural resource conditions in the basin.

The first Congress meeting would review and discuss the current status of agricultural, conservation, preservation, economic, and other activities in the Minnesota River basin. It would solicit ideas and suggestions to form the basis of an ongoing Minnesota River strategy, establish a list of priority actions targeted on moving a Minnesota River strategy forward, and create a charge and plan for implementing as much of what is decided. A follow-up Congress would be convened in the fall to review the actions and steps resulting from the first congress, and to move forward as appropriate.

An announcement and invitations for the Congress will be sent early in May. It is hoped that several hundred people will attend, representing the entire range of public and private organizations, and individuals committed to creating a comprehensive partnership in the basin, following the dissolution of the Minnesota River Board.

The Minnesota River Blueway initiative, which the MRWA had been sponsoring, will be among the various projects and organizations participating in the Congress. Following the Congress, the MRWA will re-visit the Memorandum of Understanding with federal agencies formerly engaged in the National Blueway program.

Other news and updates:
·         Cathi Fouchi reported DNR news: The DNR has hired Tony Sindt as a fisheries specialist focusing on the Minnesota River. The game and fish bill in the legislature contains provisions for planning efforts in the river corridor bordered by Renville and Redwood counties. Sometime in September there will be a Water Trails summit in St. Cloud.
·         David Minge told about a conference April 17 at the U of M St. Paul campus, in which the University working with teachers from four high schools to develop a Minnesota River curriculum: Montevideo, Granite Falls, Mankato West, and Shakopee.
·         Mark Dittrich announced the Ag Drainage and the Future of Water Quality workshop on June 26 in Mankato.
·         The Minnesota River Blueway website is up for renewal.
·         Louis Knieper said there needs to be more outreach in the farm community about water quality projects. He said that fewer than two percent of farmers had been aware of a survey about Hawk Creek. He noted the work that has been done to greatly reduce phosphorus in the Minnesota River.

The next regular meeting of the MRWA is scheduled for Tuesday, July 15. Riverside Park in New Ulm was mentioned as a possible location.


Ted Suss, Friends of the Minnesota Valley
Cathi Fouchi, DNR
Scott Sparlin, CCMR
Mark Dittrich, MDA
Elliot Schofield, Ridgewater College
Forrest Peterson, MPCA
Mike Lein, Carver County
Louis Knieper, Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative
Mary Givens, Ridgewater student
Dee Czech, Minnesota Earth Sabbath Team
David Minge, Friends of the Minnesota Valley
James and Kathleen Wolf, Friends of the Minnesota Valley
Chantill Kahler-Royer, Bolton and Menk
Kim Musser, Minnesota State Water Resources Center
Scott Kudelka, DNR
Jesse Anderson, Lower Sioux Community